The (political) dangers of H1N1
President Obama's decision to declare the H1N1 flu a national emergency over the weekend is a recognition of the political peril the virus could inflict on the White House.
The declaration came after 72 hours of stories -- both locally and nationally -- focused on the long lines for the swine flu vaccine and the mounting fear surrounding the illness.
And, it came just days after a Washington Post/ABC national poll showed that a majority (52 percent) of Americans were worried that they or someone in their family would contract H1N1 -- up from 39 percent who said the same in a mid-August survey.
Given that context, Obama's announcement, which essentially allows hospitals more leeway in the way they deal with the outbreaks, is rightly understood as an attempt to show the American people that the president understands their concern and is ensuring the government is doing everything it can to help.
It's hard not to see the way the Obama administration is handling the H1N1 outbreak through the lens of the Bush Administration's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Posted at 11:42 AM ET on Oct 26, 2009
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